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Published December 12th, 2018
Simple reminders to make the holidays bright
Photo provided

Can you believe we are in the home stretch of 2018? Where did the year go? It's like they say, the days are long but the years are short. I am sure most of you are gearing up for the holidays: shopping, baking, wrapping gifts, and getting your home ready for guests. Today I thought I'd share a few tips to keep you from getting frazzled during these last few weeks of 2018.
Keep it simple: Keep the holiday d├ęcor to a minimum. No need to haul out the 252 boxes of decorations this year. Keep the set up and take down to a minimum and have more time to just "be". Use fresh poinsettias or greenery to decorate your home. Fill decorative bowls with ornaments and add sprigs of greenery. Tie bows around lamps or vases. And candles, candles, and more candles. There is nothing more magical than candlelight during the holiday season.
Buy, don't bake: Anyone else have 342 invites to holiday parties? From school parties, work events, book club cookie exchanges, mom's groups, you name it there is a party happening almost every day of the week. How about this year you step away from the oven and head to your local grocery store for some yummy baked goods. Place them in fun decorative tins or wrap them in clear cellophane and tie with a festive bow. Give yourself permission to take it easy this season. No one needs to know you didn't battle all afternoon with the hand mixer.
Write it down: Instead of gifts this year to every aunt, uncle, second cousin and neighbor, what about writing a heartfelt note? We live in such a digital age that handwritten notes of gratitude and encouragement are few and far between. Why not take an afternoon to sit down and write a letter to someone telling him or her how much they mean to you? Believe me, that letter will mean much more than a hastily purchased gift.
Brian Tracy wrote, "The greatest gift you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance."
Wrap as you go: Who needs to spend Christmas Eve catching up on wrapping chores? I'll admit gift-wrapping is one of my least favorite jobs. I tend to leave it to the last minute and then I am overwhelmed with stacks of gifts asking myself "why did I buy this?" and "who did I buy this for?" Some simple things to make the task easier: use Post-it notes on gifts so you can keep track of who gets what. Wrap gifts as soon as you purchase them. Or better yet, forgo the wrapping and instead use a decorative bag tied with ribbon!
Just say no: Don't overbook yourself! This time of year it is easy to find yourself invited to multiple events and have something to attend every weekend in the month of December. It's okay to say no to your Aunt Gertie's sister's best friends cookie exchange. Keep your holiday commitments to a minimum.
Be present, instead of presents: What if we committed this season to less "things" and more "time" for others and for ourselves? What if we turned off our phones and TVs and had dinner with our family by candlelight? Or hired a sitter and surprised our spouse with a spontaneous Tuesday night date? Called up that friend you haven't spoken to in months just to say you're thinking about them. And what about you? How present are you with yourself? Are you taking time to just be with yourself? Are you OK to just sit in silence with no email alerts or Facebook notifications? Why not take a walk alone or head to bed 30 minutes early to enjoy a good book? The gifts, the parties, the goodies, and the family will all still be waiting for you, but you will be able to present a better you by taking the time to be.
I hope these tips help keep you from getting frazzled this holiday season. And I wish you and yours a wonderful Holiday and a very Happy New Year! See you in 2019!

Photos provided
As the Owner and Principal Designer of Lamorinda-based Amanda Carol Interiors, Amanda Eck believes your home's interior should be both approachable and well- appointed. She often asserts, "Beauty is a necessity." With a distinct sense of style that mixes contemporary and classic design she fashions spaces that are both elegant and inviting. Her design aesthetic is inspired by anything visual but especially fashion, architecture and art. Visit http://amandacarolinteriors.com for more design ideas.

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